SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2005        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Kim Beam

What is in a Name?

    There was silence for what seemed to be an eternity.  Did she just say that to me?  Did she really mean what she just said?  Did …..I really just say that?  I wonder what is she thinking right now?  “I need to see your ID because the name on your card is Kim, and no men are named Kim.”  With a smile I slowly take out my black leather wallet.  I begin to search for my driver’s license that proves my identity.  Proves that yes, my name truly is Kim.  Kim, and only Kim.  It is not short for Kimberly, Kimball, or any other name.  It is the name that my parents honored me with upon my arrival on this earth.  Trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice, I graciously but slowly hand over my license. 

    The day had been full of frustrating events.  Finals had been taken and for the most part taken well.  Work was over for the week, thankfully.  It had been a difficult week for my stress ball.  Annual benefit enrollment had finally ended, no longer was I required to labor for 10 hour days.  I think my emotions were running higher than normal this particular day.  I was sick of hearing the phrase, “what did you say your name is again, Ken, Tim, Kent, Kenny?”  Why is it so difficult to believe that a male can have the name, Kim?

    As her face started to turn a bright shade of red, my annoyance instantly melted away.  Sheepishly she handed my cash card and driver license back.  She made no eye contact, her eyes never leaving the neatly stacked pizza boxes she placed there just moments before.  My eyes, I felt, were shooting fiery darts directly at her, possibly making her feel even more ashamed than needed.  My wife seeing those eyes she had seen so many times before, intervened on her behalf.  “Don’t feel bad, I laughed the first time he told me his name, and I married him!” 

    Shame filled my heart whenever I had thoughts of changing my name.  The name, my name was honorable to my parents.  They purposefully called me Kim and not my middle name Evan, to honor a past family member.  Honor was hard to deal with at this pizza place. 

    I was hungry and wanted little interaction with anybody until after I had eaten.  My wife and I finally were able to spend time together.  I wanted nothing more than to get home as quickly as possible to spend time with her.  The news had been hard to take; our pizzas had been given away to another—female—Kim.  The explanation was justifiable but didn’t make my feelings disappear.

    My pizza had been given away to another Kim, a female Kim who had just been there.  The young girl continued explaining that they have had a rash of false pizza orders.  They had tried calling me, a male Kim, thinking it was yet another false pizza order.  When our voice message picked up she specifically thought it said Tim and Leslie.  Under the assumption that no male Kim existed, the pizza was given away immediately.  Shortly after a second Kim was there to pick up his pizza.  Still having the receipt, the charges were rung up.  “I thought I had gotten the upper hand on these pranksters, this is the last time they will prank call this pizza joint!” thought the young lady.  This sneaky person thinks he is getting a free pizza off of me with this fake card, he has another thing coming. 

    Having to provide my driver license is not abnormal these days with all the fraud going on.  I had already started taking it out of my wallet.  But when she pulled out a book that had listings of what the state driver’s license should look like was a little crazy.  She studiously and meticulously combed over my license.  Once convinced it was valid, she sheepishly handed the license back.  Would I have to give blood to prove my identity or was this enough?  I was annoyed that my identity had to be so strictly validated.  Why is it so hard to believe that a man can be named Kim? 

    It was at that moment that reality finally hit me.  This small event was nothing compared to what many minorities encountered daily. 

Return to Personal Memory Ethnographies homepage